Caught in the bureaucratic wrangling the State Marriage Assistance Scheme (SMAS) launched in 2015 with an objective of facilitating poor girls with requisite financial support to enable their marriages and to maintain the dignity and opportunity to lead a dignified life remains a poor starter today. The figures with the government speak volumes about the bureaucratic hurdles causing the delay. What began as a scheme to uplift girl child status especially the economically weak one has remained a non-starter. Over six thousand beneficiaries, who were found eligible to receive the assistance as per guidelines of the scheme, have been brought under the ambit of SMAS up to 31st of August, 2017 as per State Government statistics. It was during the tenure of Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed the scheme was approved and adopted by the State Cabinet. The scheme is a social assistance scheme meant for those unmarried identified girls living below poverty line, who may not find themselves in a position to manage the financial aspect and remain unmarried. Regarding the approval of the Cabinet to State Marriage Assistance Scheme for Poor Girls in 2015, the Chief Minister had said an unmarried girl above 18 years of age belonging to BPL family will receive Rs 25,000 cash assistance and cost of five grams of gold at the time of her marriage. The norms for availing benefits under the scheme are that the prospective beneficiary girl should be above 18 years of age, should be an identified poor girl in the survey list available with the concerned DDCs, DSWOs. Even the State High Court too had taken a serious view of the inordinate delay in approving the sanctioned cases and had asked for fixing a timeline for the disposal of such cases. The delay caused in disposing of these cases before referring it to the Administrative Department is defeating the very objective of launching this vital girl-specific scheme, where timely assistance has paramount significance. The scheme which was announced in the Budget for 2015-16 could not take off and in the subsequent year of 2016-17 merely a hallucination was projected to gain applause from public.
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